Schnauzers to sleigh it at Hobart’s Christmas parade

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Hayley Webb and her bearded dog Poppy. coming from all areas of Tasmania,” Ms Webb said.And with many members having more than one bearded dog, there could be 50 or so hairy-faced puppies prancing in the parade. External Link:

Schnauzers pulling a sleigh
“We did make up a sleigh,” Ms Webb said.”Last night we did a little trial run with two of the schnauzers.”They did it very, very well — no treats required.”The Bearded Buddies of Tasmania are group number 19 in the parade.The event starts at 10:30am on Saturday and runs from Argyle Street, along Liverpool Street to Harrington Street and back along Collins Street. Hobart’s annual Christmas parade will have more beards on show than just Santa’s as the Bearded Buddies of Tasmania get ready to strut their stuff through the CBD.The Bearded Buddies of Tasmania is a walking group for schnauzers, other bearded dog breeds and their owners.The group was started by Hayley Webb after she and her black miniature schnauzer Poppy made a connection at a local cafe. “This other couple turned up in the same place we were and they had their schnauzer and their schnoodle there,” she told Helen Shield on 936 ABC Hobart.”I couldn’t help it, I had to say hello.”Since then Ms Webb has used social media to find and meet other owners of bearded dogs across Tasmania.”It’s so great that likeminded people with a common interest and love can get together,” she said.The Bearded Buddies of Tasmania Facebook group has more than 400 members and to celebrate one year since its inception, members will march through Hobart in the city’s Christmas pageant.”We’ve got people and their beardies coming from Launceston, from Bicheno …
Errol stakes claim as Australia's top dog, possibly the world's

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November 18, 2016 11:55:08

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Poppy the schnauzer is saving her energy before pulling a sleigh in Hobart’s Christmas parade.

The emu war and a frypan fight: Australia’s hilarious history

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Disarming the troopers, the gang proceeded to strip them naked and tie them to trees, whereupon Hall delivered a stirring lecture on the pressing problem of police misbehaviour, before riding off into what I presume was a beautiful sunset, leaving the long arm of the law to await assistance in its highly embarrassed state. Meredith’s official report noted, optimistically, that his men had suffered no casualties. The question of why, blessed as we are with a native animal that is essentially a cross between an armoured car and a velociraptor, our military has not taken advantage by training emus for combat duty in the ADF, remains unanswered to this day.2. Photo:
Australian bushranger Ben Hall (Creative Commons: Mattholmes77)
Hall never killed anyone and gained a reputation as “the gentleman bushranger”. Menzies’s Kisch-OffThe Egon Kisch affair was one of the jolliest bits of tomfoolery in Australian political history, hilarious mainly for the fact that it involved government policy so mind-blowingly and transparently moronic that one has to admire the sheer audacity of the federal government in being so unafraid of looking like idiots in public that they actually implemented it.Egon Kisch was a communist and anti-war activist who had gained notoriety in Europe for opposing Hitler, a stance that though soon to gain widespread popularity, was in 1934 a prime example of the dangerous extremism that the Lyons government wished to keep out of Australia. The act stated that anyone who failed a dictation test in any European language could be excluded. Infographic:
Explorers Hamilton Hume (left) and William Hovell. If they’d had time, they probably would have drawn a line down the middle of the Great Dividing Range and ordered each other to stay on their own side.Later on, Hovell rejoined Hume when, in a rare interlude of self-awareness, he realised he’d stuffed up, but history had already been illuminated by the glorious petulance of two of Australia’s most irritatingly half-witted explorers.3. Photo:
Ned Kelly on the day before his execution, November 10, 1880. Kisch failed, and Menzies and Lyons high-fived.The High Court rained on their parade by ruling Scottish Gaelic was not covered by the Act, and Kisch was allowed in: but history’s annals had gained another sparkling chapter. Allen / State Library of New South Wales.)
An argument over the best way to proceed when they ran up against a mountain – Hume most likely thinking they should walk around it and Hovell probably wanting to bang his head against it ’til it fell over — became heated, and the explorers decided the only way to move forward was to split up.Understandably, they divided up their provisions. Also, when the guns worked, and when an emu stood still long enough to shoot at, they proved resistant to bullets to an unsettling degree. the language Australians spoke — the government could prove their unsuitability to enter the country by proving their lack of fluency in, say, Portuguese or Romansch, or any of the other languages that were totally irrelevant. On two separate occasions, Hall’s gang bailed up the NSW town of Canowindra, locked the police in their own cells, and threw a huge party for the rest of the population in the town’s pub. He has written for The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, New Matilda, The Roar, and Crikey, among others. Ned Kelly’s Pen PalNed Kelly is one of our most iconic murderers, cutting a swathe through 19th-century colonial Australia with style, bravado and most importantly, a funny hat. Kisch was a particularly difficult case, though, because he happened to be able to speak many European languages, being a widely-travelled and well-educated Jewish German Czech. To be clear, Australia’s government attempted to deny entry to an anti-Nazi activist by use of a law which blocked foreigners from visiting the country if they were unable to speak a language chosen by the government that was not the official, or even a commonly-spoken, language in Australia. Good on him.Ben Pobjie is a writer, comedian and poet with no journalistic qualifications whatsoever. Less understandably, the resolved to cut their tent in half. Their exploits included many highly comic moments, including the time Hume threatened to throw Hovell into the Murray River, and the time they went to Corio Bay, which Hovell told everyone was Western Port Bay because of his poor sense of direction — an excellent quality for an explorer to have.But the incident which was not only revelatory of the pressures and challenges of the exploring lifestyle, but also seems to have been heavily inspired by an episode of I Love Lucy, was the famous frying pan fight. These days, nobody even writes letters anymore, let alone takes the time to package up a bundle of bovine gonads to hammer home the message to an enemy, and in a way that’s a shame. One day we will look back on this moment and laugh. Photo:
Australian prime minister Sir Robert Gordon Menzies, date unknown. What the one who got the handle thought he was going to do with a frying pan handle with no frying pan attached, historians can only speculate on, but I suppose it was a kind of moral trophy. His latest book, Error Australis, is out now. But the real brawl was over the expedition’s frying pan, which was apparently of great sentimental value to these two pioneering cretins. To get a taste of what I mean, peruse these: the five funniest moments in Australian history.1. (Flickr: The b@t)
Almost immediately the expedition ran into trouble. Hume and Hovell’s Frypan FightHamilton Hume and William Hovell are two of Australia’s most accomplished and amusing explorers. The author of new book Error Australis, Ben Pobjie, reflects on the most comical characters and cock-ups of Australia’s past. And so Major GPW Meredith of the Royal Australian Artillery was sent, along with two soldiers, two Lewis guns, and 10,000 bullets, into the scrubland to show the emus just who was the more highly-evolved species. In any case, it was a shining testament to the legacy of Ben Hall, a man who defied the law not for personal gain or the satisfaction of base desires, but for the innocent and noble purpose of having a bit of a laugh at others’ expense. Ben Hall, Clown Prince of BushrangersA lot of people think Ned Kelly was the funniest bushranger, but any fool can put a bucket on his head and swan about writing letters. The soldiers attempted to herd the emus into a suitable place in which to mow them down en masse, but the birds, well-trained in guerrilla tactics, continually split into small groups and ran off in different directions, making it damnably difficult for the guns to draw a bead on them. In the end, the pan fell into two pieces, and one man took the pan itself, the other taking the handle. Kelly and Gould resolved to teach McCormack a lesson and, to that end, sent McCormack’s wife a rude letter, accompanied by a box of calves’ testicles.While it’s not exactly “Luca Brasi sleeps with the fishes”, you’ve got to admit that getting a couple of cow balls in the mail would shake a person up, and it showed that even then, at the tender age of 15, Ned displayed a keen instinct for psychological warfare and a taste for the nauseating that would serve him well in his future career. And unlike the fifty other “gentleman bushrangers”, he actually deserved it. Pearce, a man who knew the value of a show of strength, decided that what the emus needed was a hefty dose of good old-fashioned military might. He is legendary for his bushranging exploits, but less well-known are his tangles with the law before he took to the bush. This happened when relations between the intrepid pair reached an all-time low, with Hovell sick of Hume constantly making him cross rivers and Hume tired of Hovell stumbling around aimlessly bumping into trees and so forth. If that doesn’t give you a good belly laugh, I don’t know what will.5. Infographic:
Error Australis by Ben Pobjie is out now. This meant that even if one of those disreputable foreigners were so underhanded as to learn English — i.e. The surrealist humour of the government denying entry to a foreign intellectual for being too vehemently anti-Hitler was droll enough, but it got even better when the government, prevented from banning Kisch by the High Court, tried to exclude him via the Immigration Restriction Act, one of the most amusingly lunatic laws any country has ever passed. They refused him entry, but Kisch circumvented the ban by the cunning tactic of leaping off his ship onto Station Pier and breaking his leg. Unlike most bushrangers, Hall was not all that interested in shooting people. They fought over it — and I don’t mean they argued, I mean they stood in the wide Australian outback, each having hold of one side of the pan, pulling furiously. Also, the guns jammed. (AFP)
However, his belief that broken legs were grounds for entry was ill-founded, and he was returned to his ship. Meredith wrote:”If we had a military division with the bullet-carrying capacity of these birds it would face any army in the world. (Samuel Calvert, c.1873 / State Library of Victoria and Oswald H. Kisch was ordered to write the Lord’s Prayer in Scottish Gaelic, a language noted for being spoken by almost nobody, including Scottish people such as the Scottish-raised immigration officer who tested him. Say what you like about the days of colonial Australia, but back then men were men, women were women, and calves’ testicles were hand-delivered, and that’s a piece of traditional Aussie culture we’ve lost.4. But the beauty of history as a comedic resource is that it all happened ages ago, so you don’t have to pretend to feel sorry for the people it happened to.Many people believe that Australian history is a boring and colourless saga and that our nation lacks historical periods or events with the rich humorous potential of, say, the English Civil War, or the Spanish Inquisition.Yet a closer examination of the figures of our past will show that, to the contrary, Australia’s history is the funniest thing that ever happened to this country. The Emu WarAustralia cannot lay claim to any great empires or epic conquests, but we do have one distinction that no other nation on Earth can boast: we are the only country in history to lose a war to birds.In 1932, the farmers of Western Australia, fed up with the 20,000 emus that kept dropping in to their farms to eat all their crops, went to defence minister Sir George Pearce to demand he take action to safeguard the precious wheat of the Campion region. He passed the test in tongue after tongue, and the government was at its wit’s end when the solution was found. On leaving, they paid the landlord for all goods consumed and the townspeople for their time, just to really rub it in that they were not only smarter than the cops, but more generous.However, Hall’s bushranging career hit a peak when he was being pursued by the local police, near Bathurst. To this end, he conducted a criminal career that was less a reign of terror than an extended live episode of Candid Camera. It’s hilarious for the same reason life itself is hilarious: it’s filled with weirdos and idiots screwing everything up in the worst ways possible. Photo:
The emu: a native animal that is essentially a cross between an armoured car and a velociraptor. The House of Representatives debated the matter and questions were asked of the minister regarding whether medals were to be awarded for survivors of the campaign. Even robbery under arms took a secondary place in his priorities to the all-important goal of publicly humiliating the police. Kisch supporters took his case to the High Court, and attorney-general Robert Menzies, the future prime minister and eyebrow model, stated that we would determine who came to this country and the circumstances in which they come (a sentiment that would later inspire John Howard, and then every Liberal and Labor MP in the country). It was the ultimate example of Ben Hall’s raison d’etre as a bushranger — on that day, one of Australia’s greatest bushrangers proved that you could make as powerful a statement by taking the piss out of the coppers as by shooting them.If Hall’s educational address was not particularly well-received by its captive audience, it was certainly well-timed, and one might think a warmer embrace of the Hall method in the corridors of power might be beneficial when dealing with disciplinary matters. They can face machine guns with the invulnerability of tanks.”The soldiers retreated, weary and sick of the sight of feathers. Kisch planned to visit Australia to speak of his experiences under the Nazi regime, which gave the government the screaming irrits. The emus’ report noted that humans were slow-moving and stupid. (National Archives of Australia)
These include the occasion on which young Ned, on being accosted by a police constable who had noticed him riding a stolen horse, beat up the copper and rode around on his back — quite a social faux pas in those days.The pre-bushranging Ned Kelly committed numerous crimes of varying seriousness and strangeness, but one of the most strange — if not most serious — was his defence of a friend, Ben Gould, who had been accused of horse stealing by one Jeremiah McCormack (horse stealing was common in those days as there was no internet and youths were starved for entertainment). (Simon & Schuster)
History, let’s be blunt, is hilarious. For bushranging comedy with some real originality and intelligence behind it, you need to look to the conceptual art of Bold Ben Hall, the tragic hero who turned to a life of crime after his wife left him and the police burnt down his house.
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Ben Pobjie

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August 07, 2016 10:04:12

Syrian refugee wins 100m butterfly heat in Rio debut

Olympic Refugee Team overcomes hardship to make Games debut
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It was what Yusra Mardini left unsaid, rather than the conventional words of excitement, that made the bigger impression after the teenager’s debut in the Olympic pool on Saturday.”I was only thinking about water and the last competitions and where I am now,” Mardini told reporters when asked what went through her mind ahead of her 100 metre butterfly heat.The Syrian 18-year-old is swimming for the world’s first refugee Olympic team.The first of the refugees in action, she had looked down briefly before stepping on the platform.”I left swimming for two years so now we are working to get back to my level,” said Mardini, who won her heat of five swimmers but finished 41st overall, when asked how her time compared to previous ones.There was no need to explain the two-year break in her career, or indeed what kind of water might have been on her mind.From fleeing Syria to Olympic honourRio is a life away from where Mardini started. External Link:

Facebook: In the opening ceremony with Yusra Mardini … Yohooo
“It was really amazing and an incredible feeling to compete here in the Olympics and I am happy and glad for that … I’m really happy to be here and to see all of the champions and other swimmers here.”She shrugged off a suggestion that all the attention around her might have prevented her from just enjoying the experience of the Games.”This is not difficult because all of those people want to show everyone what I’m doing … and that we didn’t stop our refugee trip and it continues,” she said.And then it was back to sport again.”I’m really excited for the 100 [metre] freestyle and I hope I’m going to swim better.”Reuters The first Refugee Team The team of 10 refugee athletes have no flag or national anthem, but now have a home in the Olympic Village. Just last year she was fleeing Syria, making a treacherous sea crossing from Turkey to Greece and arriving in Berlin with her sister.She swam part of that crossing over to the island of Lesbos, helping other refugees who were in the water and were unable to swim.”It was quite hard to think that you are a swimmer and you might end up dying in the water,” she said later.A competitive swimmer in Syria, she is now part of a refugee team backed by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).She has met the Pope and been feted in Rio.”It was really cool and everything was amazing and everyone welcomed us,” she said of the opening ceremony, speaking as reporters crowded around.
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August 07, 2016 11:13:43

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Mardini, 18, swam a 100 metre butterfly heat on day one of the Olympics. (AFP: Martin Bureau)
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Bundaberg builder calls out graffiti vandal to offer blank canvas

They all got stuck in and learned the rights and wrongs of where you should and shouldn’t use graffiti.”The mural itself depicts hands intertwining, a section which represents what the city went through during the 2013 Australia Day floods and the importance of standing together as a community.”That’s basically the big message: stand as one as a community and helping one another through tough times like the floods, which we all came out of stronger,” Mr Zeilke said.”It was really to push the community message — we can all work as one, especially for these kids.”Getting into the habit of an eight-hour dayThe jobseekers involved in creating the mural are part of a program called Xtreme Turnabout, where young people who may have stepped outside the law get a second chance.Now some of the jobseekers are doing regular work experience with Mr Zielke’s construction company. we got in touch with other graffiti artists.”Working together with a local employment organisation, Impact Community Services, as well as street artist Jamie Kirby, a giant mural was created.”We got a group together that have been charged previously with graffiti offences,” Mr Zielke said.”[We] set up a workshop to show these guys that there is another way to use a spray can which can be of benefit to the community.”We got them to do a street art mural on our upcoming display home. It doesn’t really worry me because in the end … External Link:

JRZ Homes Bundaberg facebook post
“I looked at it and thought, ‘well, there is no point in wasting police resources’; it’s not something that I think they need to waste their time on,” Mr Zielke said.”I thought there has got to be a way to try and have a better outcome.”A post on social media followed, calling out the tagger and offering them an opportunity, and the possibility of a job.”We looked for the culprit with a Facebook post that went a bit viral,” he said.”We never actually got the details of the artist. (ABC News: Gary Rivett)
He says the biggest surprise for him has been the reminder that not everyone is used to a full day of work.”The biggest hurdle we’ve found initially has been trying to get them to achieve an eight-hour day,” Mr Zielke said.”They’re quite good at chucking sickies but there has been a definite improvement,” he said.”It’s going to take while but anything worth having is not usually easy, so hopefully they will get there; they will get there — we’ll make sure they do.”I’ve got a business, a pretty successful business, so I’ve got the opportunity to help these guys.”I think it’s important, when given the opportunity, to try and help.”I really love this community [and] if you support it, it will support you and I just want to try and help where I can.” It is a fairly common sight on construction sites across the country — graffiti tags covering business signs, logos and temporary fencing.Meet the Bundaberg builder who, instead of calling the police, put the call out offering taggers an opportunity to design and develop, not deface.On a particular construction job in Millbank, a suburb of Bundaberg, builder Jesse Zielke noticed a graffiti tag or two on his company’s signs.He did some investigating and found the same tag sprayed on other walls and buildings in the area. Photo:
Young jobseekers are doing work experience with Mr Zielke’s company.
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August 08, 2016 08:00:01

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Bundaberg construction business owner Jesse Zielke with the completed mural. (ABC Wide Bay: Brad Marsellos)
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Unique recycling project using highway waste to protect riverbanks

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By Emma Siossian

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August 08, 2016 11:00:15

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Tree stumps and rocks from mid north coast recycling projects are being used to protect kilometres of riverbanks (Supplied: Office of Environment and Heritage)
Mr Schmidt said the project also had follow-on environmental benefits.”Bank protection structures are usually made entirely of rock, so this timber will deliver nearly 100 tonnes of additional carbon into the estuary food chain, as well as providing a habitat niche for an extra one hectare of mangroves and promote fish habitat,” he said.”With RMS support, highway partners Lend Lease, Pacifico, Thiess and OHL Construction have provided around 600 stumps, 1,600 timber pins and 120 tonnes of rock, most of which has been delivered onsite at the river restoration project.” “So I had to prepare a list of materials I would need and it was amazing the goodwill that was out there among the different highway partners.”This unique project is a good example of how landowner willingness and collaboration between many stakeholders can help bring about coordinated action to improve the health of estuaries on the north coast of New South Wales,” he said. An innovative recycling project is using leftover tree stumps and rocks from Mid North Coast highway projects, to protect local riverbanks.The project was started by John Schmidt, an Office of Environment and Heritage Senior Coast and Estuary Officer.Mr Schmidt said tree stumps, timber and rocks from highway clearing between Port Macquarie and Urunga were being supplied by Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) at no cost.He said his initial aim was to install protection measures for up to four kilometres of river banks.”Since the idea two years ago, we have about two thirds of it complete or underway, so that’s about 3.5 kilometres committed to restoration with materials ready to go and funding to make it happen,” he said. “So it’s been a fantastic response, given that when we started it was just an idea with no funding.” Mr Schmidt said the project had taken a lot of careful planning and he had received strong support along the way.”I had to work out realistically how much one could achieve over a five-year period, so my objective was to get four kilometres of river fixed up in five years, so that was allowing one kilometre of river in each of the main river valleys,” he said.
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High-speed internet revolutionises medicine in remote Vanuatu village

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Until recently, residents of the remote village of Naviso, in Vanuatu, had to hike an hour up a mountain just to get mobile phone reception.
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(Pacific Beat)
Medical specialists too busy for regional patients
(Supplied: Alexis Cullen)
New frontiers in health and education, says PMVanuatu’s Prime Minister, Charlot Salwai, launched the telemedicine system in the village this week, declaring that information and communication technologies (ICT) could open up new frontiers in health and education for people across the country.The villagers themselves raised the funds for the project, which has been described as the first community-led ICT initiative in Vanuatu, if not the Pacific.”It’s become an open Wi-Fi connection and the whole community can use it,” Ms Cullen said.”The school has connection to the internet as well and they’ve started to incorporate it.”Ms Cullen said locals and health workers would receive training and support in telemedicine for another six months.She said the new technology had already been eagerly embraced by villagers.”It’s been incredible. And patients needing emergency medical treatment had to be carried by stretcher up the 500-metre incline and across Maewo island to the nearest hospital.But the arrival of a high-speed internet connection — and the country’s first telemedicine system connecting remote nurses to physicians — means these challenges could soon be a thing of the past. It’s so amazing to watch someone for the first time use the internet, and especially the ability to video conference,” she said.”We had a 90-year-old man come out of his house and make his way over to the clinic, demanding he see the magic box that could make him see a face in another place.”

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An elderly man in Naviso sees internet video conferencing for the first time. Photo:
The satellite dish providing internet is installed next to Naviso’s health clinic. (Supplied: Alexis Cullen)
Alexis Cullen, a US Peace Corps volunteer adviser for projects in telemedicine, told Pacific Beat the presence of high-speed internet in the village has already helped save the life of a pregnant woman, after a nurse connected with a doctor via Facebook.”Using his old informal network of his colleagues, he found someone to help him before we had even finished setting up our telemedicine link,” she said.”It was very helpful because he was alone in the clinic and he was very worried about what to do about this mother.”He immediately had the ability to speak with a trusted colleague who could help him and coach him through it, whereas before he had no one — it was only him to make these decisions.”

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Maowo islanders connect to the internet via a smartphone. (Supplied: Alexis Cullen)
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Pacific Beat

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August 08, 2016 12:33:16

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A doctor in Santo provides medical advice to a nurse in Kerepei Village via Skype. (Supplied: Alexis Cullen)
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Remote village in Vanuatu to get high-speed internet for telemedicine

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Kosovo wins first ever medal … and it’s gold

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August 08, 2016 14:02:15
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Then came Mr Thomas Bach,” Kelmendi said.”A year ago, he came to Kosovo and said: ‘I’m here to support you and I want to see you win in Rio.'”Today he said: ‘You remember that you had a dream; now you’ve realised it.’ It made me very proud.”Kelmendi took control of the final from the start, pinning the 21-year-old Giuffrida quickly to score her single point yuko.Highlighting her reputation for nerves of steel, Kelmendi never gave up her slight advantage.”Everyone in Kosovo has watched my combats and expected to see me win. External Link:

Storify: Celebrating Kosovo's first ever Olympic medal
ABC/AFP The woman who won Kosovo’s first ever Olympic medal hopes the golden honour sends a message to young survivors of war that “they can do anything they want”.Rio is Kosovo’s maiden Games, and judo star Majlinda Kelmendi claimed the historic win, beating Italy’s Odette Giuffrida by yuko in the women’s 52kg final.Kelmendi, 25, sank to her knees in tears after the event, and then ran to hug a small group of supporters chanting “Kosovo, Kosovo!””I have always wanted to show the world that Kosovo is not just a country that has gone through war,” Kelmendi said, with her nation’s flag draped around her shoulders.Kelmendi said she hoped to inspire Kosovo’s younger generation, who she said “look to me as a hero”.”I just proved to them that even after we survived a war, if they want something they can have it,” she said.”If they want to be Olympic champions, they can be. Even if we come from a small country, a poor country.”I just want to say to the young generation of Kosovo that they can do anything they want.”In 2008 Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia — whose forces fought to stop breakaway rebels in 1998–99 — and has since had its own scrap for recognition.Every sign of statedom counts, and Kelmendi faced so much spotlight in the months before the Games that she went into hiding with her coach to train.She emerged to show her pride carrying the Kosovo flag at the Olympic opening ceremony.”This medal means a lot, not only for Kosovo’s sport, but for all Kosovo as a country,” she said after the win.”We have survived a war. There are still kids who don’t know if their parents are alive, don’t have anything to eat or books to go to school.”So the fact of becoming Olympic champion is just huge for all of us.”
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Rio 2016 tweets with photo: Majlinda Kelmendi wins first gold for Kosovo
About 100 countries have given their diplomatic stamp to Kosovo, which has been recognised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for less than two years.IOC president Thomas Bach presented Kelmendi with the gold.”I had so many things going on on my mind when I was on the podium. That is why I was so motivated,” she said.Japan’s Misato Nakamura and Russia’s Natalia Kuziutina won the bronze medals.Kelmendi fought for Albania at the 2012 London Games, before Kosovo had its IOC badge, and went out in the second round.She has won two world titles since, however — including one in Rio in 2013 — and that made her the favourite going into the final.
Vietnam wins first ever Olympic gold medal
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Gold medalist Majlinda Kelmendi says the win means a lot for her nation. (Getty: Pascal Le Segretain)

Behind the scenes in Andy Griffiths’ and Terry Denton’s treehouse

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Andy Griffiths’ workplace where he writes the Treehouse series. (ABC: Patrick Wood)
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Australia

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Andy Griffiths’ workplace where he writes the Treehouse series. (ABC: Patrick Wood)
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Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton's workshop
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Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton in their writing workshop. (ABC: Patrick Wood)

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Andy Griffiths’ workplace where he writes the Treehouse series. (ABC: Patrick Wood)
(ABC: Patrick Wood) Photo:
Andy Griffiths’ workplace where he writes the Treehouse series.
(ABC: Patrick Wood) Photo:
Andy Griffiths’ workplace where he writes the Treehouse series.

NAPLAN 'meaningless' as a test of creative writing, say Treehouse authors

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Andy Griffiths’ workplace where he writes the Treehouse series. (ABC: Patrick Wood)

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Andy Griffiths’ workplace where he writes the Treehouse series. (ABC: Patrick Wood)

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Andy Griffiths’ workplace where he writes the Treehouse series. (ABC: Patrick Wood)

(ABC: Patrick Wood) Photo:
Andy Griffiths’ workplace where he writes the Treehouse series.
(ABC: Patrick Wood) Photo:
Andy Griffiths’ workplace where he writes the Treehouse series.

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I got these books and they started reading’,” he said.”You realise we’re doing something really, really important.”The pair understands the challenges the digital age poses, particularly with books competing against game consoles, computers and phones.”I’m very aware there are many other competing forms of entertainment,” Griffiths said.”I think books have risen to the challenge and they can offer something all those other things can’t, which is a very personalised imaginative experience where you bring a lot to that book.” (ABC: Patrick Wood)
“It’s very difficult to say where it all starts and who develops it,” Griffiths said.”We’ve been working together for 20 years now, so I’m often second guessing where Terry could go or what he’s capable of, then I try to get something even better than that.”Denton said he and Griffiths drove each other to ever greater levels of silliness and creativity.”That sense of pushing each other to new levels, I think that’s a pretty powerful part of it, and part of the fun of it too,” he said. and have gone on to collaborate on the best-selling Just and Treehouse series, which combined have sold more than 3.5 million copies.The 65-Storey Treehouse, released last year, was the fastest-selling Australian book ever, and the sequel has just been released.Griffiths writes the words and Denton is in charge of the illustrations. Photo:
A colourful collection of oddities inside Griffiths’ workplace. (ABC: Patrick Wood)
Perched on under-sized kids’ chairs, the pair reflected on the importance of reading for children and how the silly and spectacular books can be a gateway into more complex texts.”When I became a secondary English teacher I met a lot of kids who [didn’t read much],” Griffiths said.”It just seemed they were missing this huge dimension in their lives, so that’s what really started me attending to, how do you write a book that convinces a non-reader that reading is worthwhile and exciting?”Denton said watching children enjoy his books inspired him to keep going.”[It’s] the parents in particular coming up saying, ‘They didn’t read before. Griffiths said Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland were an inspiration, while Denton was drawn to the Mad Magazine and Peanuts classics.Tapping in to what modern children enjoy is the key to their success. Photo:
Many unusual relics can be found inside the workspace of Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton. Walking into Andy Griffiths’ workspace, you would be forgiven for thinking you had stumbled into a 9-year-old’s dream.Every surface is covered with toys, books, gadgets and gags. Photo:
A bottle of Andy Griffiths vomit takes pride of place. If you still had any doubt that this was a room for fun and imagination, the plastic vomit on the ground and the jar of “Andy’s own vomit” would set you straight.Among all the gadgets, there is one thing that takes pride of place: a six-foot model treehouse based on the best-selling Treehouse series, complete with bowling alley, swimming pool and “Maze of Doom”.Griffiths and his creative partner, Terry Denton, spend hours hidden away in this studio out the back of Griffiths’ Melbourne home.”When we get together in this room we get in touch with our 9-year-old selves and it just happens,” Griffiths said.The pair started working together with the 1997 book Just Tricking! (ABC: Patrick Wood)
Sometimes, however, the pair needs to be reined in just a bit.”Luckily we have Jill, my wife and editor and really co-writer these days, she will tell us when we’ve gone too far,” Griffiths said.”She’ll say, ‘Look, you’re amusing yourselves now with this abstract, insane humour’.”The pair grew up reading classic stories from Enid Blyton and Dr Seuss.
ABC News Breakfast

By

Patrick Wood

Updated

August 09, 2016 12:16:57

Video: Inside Andy Griffiths' and Terry Denton's workshop

(ABC News)

‘Fish nerds’ put finned friends on show at Ekka 2016

(612 ABC Brisbane: Jessica Hinchliffe)
“There are 23 different categories ranging from live bearing fish through to large fish, goldfish, novelty tanks and planted tanks,” Mr Baines said.”Judges look for five things — colour, fins, body, condition and deportment, which is how the fish acts.”

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Head steward Steve Baines looks at one of the fish entered in the Ekka competition. Self-proclaimed fish nerds are celebrating a record number of entries in this year’s pisciculture section of the Royal Queensland Agricultural Show.Aquarium enthusiasts have travelled hundreds of kilometres from throughout Queensland with their own tanks, water and fish to put their prized cold-blooded possessions on show.The pisciculture section highlights the breeding and rearing of fish under controlled conditions.Steward Steve Baines said this year’s competition had seen a record 121 entries including tropical fish, Siamese fighting fish and crowd favourites, Nemo and Dory. Photo:
Fish tanks show various entries in a variety of pisciculture categories. (612 ABC Brisbane: Jessica Hinchliffe)
Mr Baines said this year’s competitors in the novelty tank category had shown “great creativity”.”One entrant has built a Game of Thrones display where they have the white wall and they have used white Mexican walking fish,” he said.”The theme of their novelty tank is The White Walkers; I think that’s quite clever.”Goldfish break records A record 35 entries in the goldfish category were also received this year.Mr Baines said the goldfish were always the hardest to judge due to their unique features.”Generally we only have about six goldfish entries,” Mr Baines said. (612 ABC Brisbane: Jessica Hinchliffe)
Mr Baines has been part of the Ekka every year since 1984, making sure his prized fish are always on display for show-goers.”We’re fish nerds and it gives us the chance to rave on about our fish,” he said.”We’re very competitive just like cattle and horses; we’re serious about our judging.”Novelty tanks draw crowdsThe competition had seen entrants enter not only their fish, but their decorated aquariums as well. Photo:
Entrants are encouraged to create novelty tanks for their fish entries. (612 ABC Brisbane: Jessica Hinchliffe) (612 ABC Brisbane: Jessica Hinchliffe)
“Each of the goldfish are worth more than $300 and their characteristics have to be spot on.”When the Ekka draws to a close on Sunday, each of the competitors will have to clean and empty their tanks to travel home.”It’s interesting packing up [with] more than 100 competitors all wanting to drain their tanks out one little drain and get their prized fish home,” Mr Baines said.”It’s always mayhem, but it’s worth it.”

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Judges use rulers and illustrations to judge each fish on their deportment, body and fins. Photo:
Goldfish wait to be judged.
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August 09, 2016 12:18:29

Video: The Ekka has welcomed a record number of fish entries in this year's pisciculture section. (ABC News)

The fight to save Africa’s ‘lost Eden’

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Bob Poole in Africa

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Bob Poole has filmed a six-part series on the Gorongosa National Park in partnership with PBS and National Geographic. (Supplied: Gina Poole)

(Supplied: Gina Poole) Photo:
Conservationists are trying to restore the elephant population in the Gorongosa National Park.
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Hippos frolic in Africa. (Supplied: Piotr Naskrecki)

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Bob Poole said illegal mining and logging still threatened the park in Mozambique. After 30 years of war, it was really decimated,” he said.”The habitat was still there but the wildlife was almost all gone.”When civil war broke out in Mozambique in the late 1970s the Gorongosa National Park became a key battleground between opposing forces.Elephants were killed for their ivory, which was traded for guns and ammunition, and zebras and other animals were hunted for their meat.”The park was pretty much left for dead,” Poole said. (Supplied: Gina Poole)
He first visited the Gorongosa National Park in 2008 and said he was staggered by how the wildlife had been killed or driven out.”It was one of Africa’s greatest national parks. Photo:
The elephant population in the Gorongosa National Park is recovering after years of poaching. (Supplied: Gina Poole)
These days, Poole said illegal mining and logging still threatened the park, but new initiatives had given him reason to hope things could slowly improve.Specifically, a public-private partnership struck between the Mozambican Government and a team led by philanthropist Greg Carr in 2008 had seen a noticeable turnaround in the park’s fortunes.The 20-year deal sees Carr, the Government and international bodies work to conserve the park and attempt to bring back wildlife that has been lost. exploded back onto the scene,” he said.”If you come back in 20 years and go to the centre of that national park, it will be incredible.””If we just give it a chance or give it a bit of help — especially in a place like Africa, where nature is so resilient — it can bounce back.Poole said the message he will be spreading on his tour around Australia this month was: “Conservation in Africa is a tough job, it just never goes away.””This is hope for African wildlife if we all care about.” The way that the wildlife just … For wildlife as well as conservation,” he told ABC News Breakfast.Poole grew up in East Africa, where his father was the director of the Peace Corps and later the African Wildlife Foundation. The fight is on to save Africa’s “lost Eden”, a national park buried in Mozambique recovering from decades of civil war, documentary-maker Bob Poole says.Poole, an Emmy Award-winning filmmaker for National Geographic, has spent years documenting conservation efforts in the Gorongosa National Park.He is in Australia for the Nature Roars Back tour to share what he has discovered.”Gorongosa roughly translates to a place of danger, and in some ways that rings true. Photo:
The Gorongosa National Park is recovering from years of civil war. (Supplied: Gina Poole)
Poole said the difference for the park in just eight years was impressive, but it had to be sustained.”What I saw in my time there was extraordinary.

(Supplied: Gina Poole) Photo:
The Gorongosa National Park is a stunning piece of Mozambique.

(Supplied: Piotr Naskrecki) Photo:
Lions are slowly coming back to the Gorongosa National Park.
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Documenting the fight to save Gorongosa National Park. (Supplied)

ABC News Breakfast

By

Patrick Wood

Updated

August 09, 2016 16:34:59

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National Geographic filmmaker Bob Poole on saving Africa's "lost Eden"
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Elephants roam the Gorongosa National Park.

Brazilian rugby player gets surprise on-field wedding proposal from girlfriend

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(AP: Themba Hadebe) Posted

August 09, 2016 20:24:43

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“I have to make this special”: Cerullo’s partner surprises her on the rugby pitch.
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Brazilian rugby player Isadora Cerullo has been surprised with an on-field wedding proposal following Australia’s win in the first women’s rugby sevens event in Olympic history at Rio’s Deodoro Stadium.Cerullo’s partner of two years, 28-year-old Marjorie Enya, walked onto the pitch as the crowd were dispersing following the final, and popped the question.Enya, who is a manager at the venue, grabbed a microphone and delivered an emotional speech before embracing her partner to the cheers of onlookers, the BBC reported.”I know rugby people are amazing and they would embrace it,” Enya told reporters.”She is the love of my life.”
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Isadora Cerullo tweet from Danielle Warby
The couple live in Sao Paulo, where Cerullo has been focussing on training for the inaugural Olympic event.Cerullo, who is a dual US and Brazilian citizen, was reportedly studying medicine in the United States before she was selected for Brazil’s Olympic squad.”As soon as I knew she was in the squad I thought I have to make this special,” Enya told the BBC.Twitter erupted with congratulations from around the world for the newly minted couple, with well-wishers tweeting photos, rainbows and hearts.Same-sex marriage has been legal in Brazil since 2013.Hosts Brazil beat Japan 33-5 to finish in ninth place overall in the 12-team women’s draw.
Multi-sport athletes star in Aussie Olympic rugby sevens gold

Best in show: Judges lip-smacking search for Perth’s top ice-cream and gelato

Judging cheese and chocolate at the Perth Royal Show
(720 ABC Perth: Emma Wynne)
“You have to get the right sugar levels, the flavour levels and the really good quality ingredients in there.”I think because it’s such a difficult one, I really love it when I get one where I go: ‘oh wow, that is just a fantastic vanilla’.”I really appreciate the workmanship that has gone into it.”And for those that long to eat ice-cream for a living, there is hope. Photo:
Karen Reid will taste over 50 ice-creams in a few hours of judging. It’s a tough job but someone has to do it.Judges have spent a day at the Perth Showgrounds Dairy Pavilion tasting an array of ice-creams and gelatos, looking for the best in show.Although the Perth Royal Show does not kick off until September 28, entries have already closed for the many food, produce and cookery competitions and judging is well underway.On Tuesday, two teams of judges taste tested just over 100 entries. Photo:
An ice-cream flavoured with dried apricot. Photo:
Each category is judged by three people. Sometimes no entries in a class will get a medal, and sometimes several will.At the end of the class judging, overall best ice-creams and gelatos will be chosen.”We will really see some fantastic product when we get to that,” chief judge of the dairy and cheese competition Russell Smith said.’Very picky to find the best’The Perth Royal Show provides ice-cream makers a rare opportunity to have their product professionally evaluated. “Where you are tasting milk, milk is all the same product.”When you taste strawberry, vanilla buttermilk cake, shiraz, wild berry and cracked pepper in gelato it is hard to rule out personal preference and just judge on the technical aspects.”

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Chocolate, mint and red velvet cake ice-cream competing at the Perth Royal Show. “We are just being very picky here to find the best ones.”What’s the trickiest flavour?According to Mr Smith, one of the hardest flavours to make was plain vanilla. (720 ABC Perth: Emma Wynne)
“I think the main thing is to have it peer reviewed, to see where the quality of their product sits against all their competition in the marketplace,” Mr Smith said.”I don’t think it can go horribly wrong in ice-cream — even the ones that aren’t terribly good, a lot of people are still going to enjoy them. “There is nowhere to hide with vanilla,” he said. “They are always looking for new judges,” Ms Reid said.”You do need experience in the dairy industry, and an interest.” (720 ABC Perth: Emma Wynne)
And just like wine tasters, the judges spit and avoid swallowing.”It is a bit gross, isn’t it?” ice-cream judge Karen Reid said.”But when you taste 50 odd dairy products, if you eat them all, by the time you get to the third session your tastebuds are dead.”Spitting is required, as is water and eating water crackers in between classes.”Occasionally an entry was unexpectedly awful and “and that is when the spit bucket is really handy,” Ms Reid said.Buttermilk, pepper and wine flavoursIn the ‘gourmet gelato with real fruit, excluding any chocolate’ class, the judges were presented with a wide variety of flavours.”It’s difficult in a class like gelato where you get completely different flavours,” Ms Reid said. (720 ABC Perth: Emma Wynne)
Judges award scores out of 20 for each entry, giving points for flavour, aroma, texture and appearance.An entry has to score over 18 to get a gold medal.
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Emma Wynne

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August 10, 2016 09:19:58

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Chief judge Russell Smith tastes a gelato (720 ABC Perth: Emma Wynne)
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‘This is why we do the Olympics’: North and South Korean gymnasts pose for selfie

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Olympic diving pool's strange green water overshadows events
(Reuters: Dylan Martinez) Updated

August 10, 2016 09:49:47

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Lee Eun-ju of South Korea takes a selfie with Hong Un-jong of North Korea.

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It is being touted as a photo that defines the spirit of the Olympics — North and South Korean gymnasts posing for a selfie at the Rio Games.During a practice session, 17-year-old Lee Eun-Ju of South Korea and 27-year-old Hong Un-Jung of North Korea laughed and chatted and took a photo together.The moment was captured by another photographer and shared around the world on social media by users including political scientist Ian Bremmer, who tweeted: “This is why we do the Olympics.”The photo has been praised for capturing a moment of sportsmanship and unity, amid hostile relations between the two countries, which technically remain at war because was no peace treaty signed at the end of the 1950-53 Korean War.In 2008, Hong became the first female gymnast from North Korea to win an Olympic gold medal, while Lee made her Olympics debut in Rio.Lee was eliminated in Sunday’s preliminary competition, while Hong will go on to compete in the vault final. (Reuters: Dylan Martinez) Photo:
Lee Eun-Ju made her Olympics debut in Rio.

Facebook post attracts hairdresser to Blackall

a lot of people went away to get their hair done, and every boy had a haircut by their mother.”It’s just good to have someone in town.”Mayor delighted by Facebook response

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Blackall-Tambo mayor Andrew Martin shows the Facebook post that helped to attract a hairdresser to Blackall. One little Facebook post has made a huge difference to the outback Queensland community of Blackall, helping to attract a hairdresser to town.Blackall had been without a permanent hairdresser for several months, meaning locals were forced to travel hundreds of kilometres for a professional cut.Blackall-Tambo mayor Andrew Martin posted on Facebook in June, asking for hairdressers to contact the council about moving to town and setting up a business.The post caught the attention of Rockhampton hairdresser Tiffiany Kraatz, who lived in Blackall for several years as a child.Within weeks, Ms Kraatz, her husband Jeremy, and their four children had moved to town.She said locals had been overwhelmingly positive about her new salon.”They’re all really supportive. we wanted a different lifestyle for the kids,” she said.”They’ve been able to ride to school and they play a lot of sport, and just have the freedom they wouldn’t have had growing up in Rocky.”You couldn’t ask for a better lifestyle out here.”

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Blackall-Tambo Mayor Andrew Martin says there is a feeling of optimism around Blackall after a difficult few years. Everyone’s come in, and everyone’s really happy with their hair,” she said.”I’ve had some really good compliments from the locals and the tourists. Everyone seems so supportive, so it’s good.”Ms Kraatz said the relaxed Blackall lifestyle was what had attracted her and her family back to the bush.”Rocky’s obviously really busy … (ABC Western Queensland: Blythe Moore)
Hairdressing a vital service in bush townsMs Kraatz said she believed access to a hairdresser was important for people in small towns.”Everyone likes to look nice and tidy,” she said.”I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t want to look scruffy around the place, and people have events they’ve got to go to in other towns.”I think most towns should have a hairdresser.”She said the absence of a hairdresser had impacted Blackall in a variety of ways.”On my first day a little boy came in with his mum, and his mum had cut his hair and she asked me to fix it,” she said.”[It is] hard because if they have no one to do anything like that, it shows.”Blackall local Amanda Turlan said she was delighted to see a hairdresser back in town.”Everyone’s happy, everyone’s got good hair now,” she said.”I think girls just waited … (ABC Western Queensland: Blythe Moore)
Cr Martin said he had been inundated with responses to his Facebook post.”I got a Facebook reply from a girl in Russia, several from Indonesia, Port Macquarie, Melbourne, Perth, Townsville, and this wonderful woman from Rockhampton, called Tiffiany Kraatz,” he said.Cr Martin said he hoped the new salon was the beginning of a positive trend for Blackall.He said the town had suffered from the drought and the demise of the wool industry in recent years.”The history of Blackall, as you well know, over the last decade has been people leaving town and kids leaving the school,” he said.”And all of a sudden one little Facebook article and [we have] four kids back in town and a girl going into business.”After his successful Facebook post, Cr Martin said he had become a social media convert.”It’s a great way of disseminating information when your nearest neighbour is 100km away,” he said.”As a council, we’re now looking at doing our own Facebook page for the councillors and myself.”
Welcome to Blackall — the town with no hairdresser
(ABC Western Queensland: Blythe Moore) ABC Western Qld

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August 10, 2016 14:52:09

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Tiffiany Kraatz straightens Amanda Turlan’s hair in her new salon in Blackall.

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Retired farmers recruited to help tree changers

(ABC Central Victoria: Larissa Romensky) ABC Central Victoria

By

Larissa Romensky

Posted

August 10, 2016 16:56:13

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Retired farmer Noel Jenner has become part of the Connors’ family.
“Well, I’m off the land, what else do I do?” she recalled.”That’s when This Farmer Needs a Farm was born.” The idea coincided with a local government community funding scheme that Ms Connors successfully applied for.”I have found this project is just really needed within the community. A community project that enlists the help of retired farmers to assist tree changers on their land and help improve connections has been started in Kyneton.When Melissa Connors and her family moved to their 4-hectare property in Kyneton four years ago, they did not know much about hobby farming.Having previously come from a small block in the outer suburbs of Melbourne, they needed a different set of skills to tackle livestock, fencing and water management.”We did things backwards. I think most people do, and just keep in your little circle,” Mr Jenner said.But a chance meeting between Mr Jenner and Ms Connors changed both their lives for the better.Even though they waved to each other twice a day when Mr Jenner went past the property on his daily walks, Ms Connors said it took him three years to finally “warm up” to her and have a conversation.Ms Connors was curious about his dedication to walking, and Mr Jenner’s response to her question was the catalyst for the project. (ABC Central Victoria: Larissa Romensky)
Mr Jenner, 78, is well equipped for the job, having previously worked on his wife’s family’s 56-hectare dairy farm in Gippsland. That’s the constant feedback I get,” Ms Connors said.”This is basically a platform for [farmers] to butt in and help, because we need their help.”We get up here and we have these dreams of this beautiful idyllic property, then the reality hits.”Ms Connors said many young families were moving to the country and buying land, and in some cases the husband was away working.”If things go wrong and David’s not home, I have to take care of it,” she said.Farmer now part of the family

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The Connor family (from back left) David, Eire, Melissa, Neil Jenner, (front left) Aidan and Siobhan. We’d come out and they’d be on the road,” Ms Connors said.”We knew nobody and we didn’t know what to do.”We just found ourselves on a really steep learning curve.”After meeting and befriending local retired farmer Noel Jenner, the idea for community project This Farmer Needs a Farm was born.”It’s about creating a platform for tree changers, like myself and my family, who have moved up to our plots of land and know absolutely nothing about working them, getting our retired farmers to share their knowledge and build our farms into what we want them to be,” Ms Connors said.She said the farmers could be involved as much as they wanted, taking the form of a one-on-one partnership or within a group, depending upon the different needs of the community.”The bottom line is, it’s getting this knowledge out of these guys’ and women’s heads,” Ms Connors said.She said the project was trying to tap into an existing knowledge base by creating connections and encouraging people to talk.”Rather than sitting behind your computer screens to find the answers,” Ms Connors said.Feeling isolated after leaving the farm

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Melissa Connors and Noel Jenner have formed a friendship after three years of waving hello to each other. We get on very well together, and we do lots of things together and it keeps me busy,” he said.He hopes more retired farmers get involved in the project.”They’ve got nothing else to do. They should get involved and come on board,” he laughed. We put six black Angus steers on it before even looking at the fences. Although he does not miss rounding up cattle in the dark, moving off the farm and into town proved harder to maintain connections, leaving him feeling isolated.”As you get older you sort of stick to your own and just keep to yourself mainly. We have a lot of good times together,” Mr Jenner said.Ms Connors said Mr Jenner even walked the family dog, and her children enjoyed his company.”It’s been a fantastic and unexpected friendship, and I’m really lucky to have Noel in our lives,” Ms Connors said.Mr Jenner said it was important he was making a difference and had found something meaningful in his own life.”It’s a lovely relationship. (ABC Central Victoria: Larissa Romensky)
The relationship has been more than just Mr Jenner providing general farming advice around the property and recommending tradespeople.The pair has also developed a strong friendship.”We’re very good friends.
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